Blood Pressure Info
December 13, 2011 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Resources for learning about blood pressure?

I am almost 33 years old and just got my blood pressure today, which is 130/80. The test was for a physical, not done by my doctor (I don't have a doctor). The doctor said the number was fine, but later when I looked it up it seems it's on the high end of normal.

I get a lot of exercise, working out vigorously 4-6 times a week, plus going for walks outside that workout time. I'm not skinny but not fat either, about 5'5 1/2 inches and around a size 12, sometimes 10. I feel like I am in decent shape. I also eat pretty well, rarely eating red meat or fried foods, and a good amount of fruits and veggies. I don't smoke (although I live in a polluted country, China).

I am trying to find resources (or maybe some of you can serve as resources) to figure out if I need to lower my blood pressure, or worry about it, since I don't have a doctor to ask. Any articles or books you know about this topic, or experiences would be great.

posted by bearette to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS- I hope no one take offense at my use of the word "fat" in that context. I just meant I don't think I "look" like I have a lot of extra weight.
posted by bearette at 8:16 PM on December 13, 2011

Best answer: Trustworthy sites: American Heart Association. British Heart Foundation. High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia.

IANYD, IANA physician, IANY epidemiologist, IANY nurse, IANY mother, this isn't medical or nursing advice. Under US guidelines, your systolic blood pressure is pre-hypertensive, but several other industrialized nations say the US worries too much. Everyone agrees your diastolic is fine.

Lowering blood pressure: You didn't mention alcohol, but otherwise you're already doing most of the recommended things to keep your blood pressure healthy. Adults should have a blood pressure check every 2 years if they've always had normal blood pressure. If you drink a lot of booze, cutting back will probably drop your pressure a bit. Air pollution has substantial negative effects on cardiovascular health, including blood pressure. (See: a recent publicly available editorial from one of the AHA journals.) If your walking routine is outside during high-pollution hours, you might want to see if rearranging your schedule has any effect.
posted by gingerest at 8:16 PM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: let me come in really quick and add: I very rarely drink alcohol.
posted by bearette at 8:18 PM on December 13, 2011

Best answer: Agreed with gingerest - your systolic is a bit high, your diastolic is fine. I was diagnosed with high BP at 34, and because I am young and healthy they checked me for stuff like renal artery stenosis to make sure I didn't have a physical issue causing the high BP. Other than that, it sounds like you're doing the right things, but agreed that you may want to do your physical activity indoors during high-pollution times, or try to shift most of your activity indoors if you can.
posted by bedhead at 8:32 PM on December 13, 2011

Best answer: One blood pressure reading isn't enough to diagnose chronic hypertension or pre-hypertension. It could be as simple as you're nervous about the physical, or it's a single off reading, or any number of other things. I wouldn't worry about 130/80 unless you consistently get that number.

I'm sorry I don't have any links to general information about blood pressure. Most of my resources are about blood pressure with kidney failure and on dialysis, which is significantly different.
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:05 PM on December 13, 2011

Make sure you eat plenty of good fats, and keep simple carbs (sugar, bread, pasta) under control.
posted by gjc at 5:39 AM on December 14, 2011

I have high blood pressure (41, female, fit and work out daily, non smoker) and in my case it's just "lucky" genetics. Both my parents also have it. The medicine I take, Hydrochlorothiazide, works like a charm and I've not had any ill effects. Good luck! And do stay on top of this issue. High BP is no joke!
posted by kiwi-epitome at 7:05 AM on December 14, 2011

I must reiterate and emphasize what some others have stated: high blood pressure is not, and CANNOT be, determined or defined from a single reading. Generally, at least 10-12 readings are required, with the average reading at or above 140/90, for a diagnosis.

If you are eating healthy, exercising, and are in generally robust health, I would not be concerned about that single reading. In fact, I am more concerned with your statement that you don't have a doctor, and the implication that you don't have regular checkups. At 33, it is extremely advisable to have a yearly checkup, where not only blood pressure (hopefully several separate readings) but also glucose, iron, cholesterol, triglycerides, and other levels are checked. And I sincerely hope you are getting yearly gynecological checkups!!

Personally, I WISH my blood pressure could measure 130/80. I take two meds, and the LOWEST reading I can achieve is 140/90. In the morning (when my med levels are at their lowest) my pressure is usually 150/100 or worse. I am a 54 year old woman, non-smoker, healthy diet (and have excellent cholesterol and triglyceride levels due to that). I almost never get sick, not even a cold. Hypertension is my only health problem. But it is a serious one.
posted by RRgal at 3:55 PM on December 15, 2011

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